No Excuses

May 5, 2008
By Tiffany Taylor, Wichita, KS

Title: No Excuses

He looked at his watch for what seemed to be the hundredth time in the last minute.


He should just give up now. Nobody shows up 34 minutes late without calling to give an explanation. Glancing around the restaurant, he sees that nothing has changed. The same waitress with the star tattoo behind her ear, the same businessman softly speaking into his phone, and the same empty chair sitting across from him. A table for two. The unopened bottle of wine. The whole chibang.

One minor problem. That empty chair was not supposed to be empty.

He had even left his job at the hospital early tonight. Just in case, to make sure everything was perfect. This was one night he was not going to mess up. Then why was he sitting alone? She didn’t seem like the type to stand him up. He pictured her sweet, genuine smile and the laugh sparkling through her eyes. Surely she was not this cruel. She had an excuse then. She’d call him up tomorrow, breathlessly apologize and give a perfectly rational reason for her absence. He smiled at the thought. She would begin apologizing, and he would just laugh off the whole thing. No big deal, he would say, as long as you make it up to me. How does tonight sound? Simple as that. But what if…

No. She liked him. They had connected, hadn’t they? Then why did she want to meet him here and not let him pick her up? Because, she had to teach her class, she’d be in this part of town anyways. It just made sense. Now it wasn’t making quite so much sense. Could he really have been that dumb?

Maybe he should just leave. He glanced at his watch yet again. 8:39. Clearly she wasn’t coming. How dare she treat him this way? He was a nice guy, he didn’t deserve this. Why hadn’t she just said no from the beginning? Sure would’ve saved a lot of trouble, and he could have asked out a better girl tonight. A girl with a heart. What a waste of his time. That’s it, he was leaving. She wasn’t worth it. He could just grab some take-out, rent a movie, and have a great time at home.

Dumb b****. He never really liked her anyways.

Grabbing his coat, he threw some money on the table and stormed out the door. The icy winds blasted his face as he pulled his coat up around his head. Cursing as he fumbled with the lock, his numb hands finally opened the car door and he threw himself inside. He tried to recover from the cold by stamping the snow from his boots and blowing hot air into his hands, but only partially succeeded. As his fingers began to regain feeling, he turned the key to start the car, glanced in the rearview mirror, and began to back…

Wait. What was that behind him? How had he not seen so many flashing lights on his way to the car? He turned in his seat and peered out the back window. The developing fog blurred his view, so he crawled into the back seat and swiped away the condensation with his hand. He let out a low whistle as he surveyed the huge wreck behind him. Looked like he wouldn’t be getting out anytime soon. Just great, the icing on the cake. Could anything else go wrong tonight?

And more importantly, why did it have to be so cold? Well, he certainly couldn’t sit out here running the heater all night. Might as well go back inside. Maybe she’d come after all…

His eye caught the shape a shoe, a high heel, covered in tar and thrown into the street. This shoe triggered his memory although he couldn’t place it. Now curious, he picked up the lonely shoe and walked towards the accident. As he surveyed the scene, he found the matching shoe on her foot and looked into the face that had stood him up.

Guess she had an excuse.

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